kinds of drugs and its side effects

Five Things I Want To Tell You, While I Can Without Sobbing, About My Dog’s Departure

Rainbow BridgeI know it’s just a question of time before I will have to part ways with my sweet Frankie. I can’t predict how long we have — I hope months, but it’s hard to say.  I can safely predict that there will be a period afterwards when I won’t be able to think straight. So while I’m not besotted with grief,  I’d like to share a few things.

1. I loathe the Rainbow Bridge myth.

I know that when Frankie dies, many of you will be tempted to use the phrase “He has gone to the bridge,” referring to the Rainbow Bridge story, to try to console me. I will never question that you mean well and I will be grateful for the sympathy. But just so you know, I will be stifling a scream of: “I hate the Rainbow Bridge. Frankie is NOT going there.”

Let me be clear: It’s not just because the story is cloyingly sentimental — and here I apologize to those who take comfort from it — that I despise it. No, it’s the image of all the dogs romping together in a group while waiting for their beloved person to arrive that I can’t take.  Frankie has never romped with another dog in his life, at least not the life that he shared with me. I don’t like to picture him frightened, trying to avoid all the dogs that want to play with him, only without me to protect him. I’m serious. It makes me cry even to think about it.

While I have breath left in me, I’m going to keep Frankie from that fucking scary bridge.

[I have ranted about the Rainbow Bridge before, with regard to shelter pets, but it didn’t hit home to me in the same way as it does now. That said, I read over the comments and discovered many people feel much the same way I do. Check it out.]

2. To me, gone is gone (though never forgotten).

I respect your belief system — in public anyway, unless you’re a fundamentalist who wants to impose your ideas on me. Please respect my lack of one. It’s not just the Rainbow Bridge that gets under my skin; I feel the same way about heaven, angels… all the trappings of the traditional afterlife. I find solace in the idea that any pain, discomfort, fear and unhappiness humans or pets experience is ended when they die. I felt this way when my parents passed, and I don’t anticipate any change of heart when it comes to Frankie. The idea of a separate sphere where the departed’s spirit and personality live on is anathema to me; I prefer my loved ones much closer, in my heart and mind.

3. I’m not keen on corporeal memorials.

Burials, urns with ashes, lockets with a pet in compressed carbon…  all those things creep me out too. I’m sure I will be ugly sobbing over every last squeaky carrot I don’t have the heart to throw out, but once Frankie’s spirit is gone, his body will have no meaning for me. In any case, Frankie doesn’t have a special place that he loves except for my house and, though you probably wouldn’t notice, what with all the dust, I don’t plan to scatter his ashes there.

4.  I  would like to have Frankie help out with medical research.

I have the organ donor box checked off on my drivers license, but there’s no official organ bank — yet — for pets.  I’m trying to figure out how Frankie can contribute.

Veterinary schools have what are called Willed Body Donation programs but when I inquired into the one at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Western University,  I was told they only accept pets within a 45 mile radius. Which makes sense. But there is no vet school near me in Tucson.

I haven’t been able to bring myself to discuss this topic with my vet (the nice one). Even now, I’m only rational about this to a limited degree. Maybe I’ll muster the nerve to call a local veterinary specialty hospital one of these days. In the meantime,  if anyone has any ideas about research programs, they’d be very welcome.

5. Please don’t tell me how I should heal.

Again, I know you mean well, but I’ve got to figure it out for myself. Right now, I’m pretty sure I will want (need) to travel but who knows? I might foster a bunch of older dogs, volunteer to walk dogs at the shelter — or I might need to stay away from all dogs for a while.  Share your experiences, by all means. Just don’t present them as the “right” or “only” way to grieve.

By now you’re probably terrified at the idea of approaching or contacting me. But, honest, unless you’re going to tell me to get over it, “it was just a dog,” I really will want to hear from you; these are just guidelines. If you’re nearby, bring food — and, of course, booze. Hmmmm. I do like the idea of a wake, Cynthia David. But can we have it at your house, so I don’t have to clean up afterwards?

***

Those of you who have been through this — or who are anticipating it: What brings you comfort?

 

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56 Comments

  1. Posted September 30, 2013 at 5:12 am | Permalink

    Good to know. I respect your desire not to “go there” with the Rainbow Bridge and the other accoutrements that accompany someone’s death. I used to feel the same way about the Rainbow Bridge until I read a book about a little boy who actually saw heaven (at least that what he says) and said he saw dogs there too. After that, I was okay with the bridge. Maybe I am deluding myself, but I would rather go someplace I can be reunited with my dogs than just lay in a dark hole in the ground with no chance of seeing my dad or relatives either.

    I hope you don’t have to go through this for a long time yet Edie. I really do. Makes me sad reading this because I know you are planning for the end.

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted September 30, 2013 at 6:12 am | Permalink

      I could be deluding myself about nothingness, too; I won’t know until the time comes. Everyone needs to find comfort in his/her own fashion.

      Although I’d like to keep Frankie with me forever, there’s not much joy in our household right now. There’s a part of me that’s ready to mourn in earnest, for the big loss, rather than the little ones that keep accruing every day.

      Thanks for your good wishes. Don’t be sad. It’s better to get accustomed to the idea than to pretend nothing is happening.

  2. Posted September 30, 2013 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    For what it’s worth Edie, here is what helped me. Like you say it is all personal and I do hope you will find what can bring comfort for you too.

    I made one of our former cats, Pjevs, a promise on what I wanted to do better. And following up on that, gives me the feeling I act in his spirit, of him being proud that he made me a – little bit – better man. Or less worse. Probably the latter, he was a real cat.

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted September 30, 2013 at 7:43 am | Permalink

      That’s beautiful, Leo. Frankie has already made me a better person — one who is capable of taking care of another creature in a way I would never have anticipated. I love the idea of acting in his spirit as a way of honoring him.

  3. Posted September 30, 2013 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    I love this posting, although I do think that some sort of spirit energy exists, and it may just be for my own comfort. I have lost several dogs, all very beloved and the grieving for each one has been so different. There is no wrong or right way. Your heart guides and heals you the best way it knows how and often it is not the way you would expect or plan for at all.

  4. Posted September 30, 2013 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    Ooops – did not finish. I don’t like urns, ashes, or even dead bodies hanging around. I do keep a bit of their hair and use it in some of my felted objects. But mostly I plant a tree or pretty perennial in the garden. None of my dogs are ever forgotten, they are all in my heart and I appreciate what they added (and subtracted – I am so broke from vet bills..LOL) to my life. It’s the best I can do as far a grieving. I do like the idea of a wake with food and drink. We need occasions to mark. And often I get another dog a bit too soon, but they needed me. I have two right now that will be leaving within the year ( I am guessing) and hope I can let the pack stay at the remaining two for awhile.

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted September 30, 2013 at 8:12 am | Permalink

      Thanks for this, Miriam. I’m glad you appreciated the post and I like the idea of a tree or other memorial, something of new life that’s not associated with death.

      Frankie is my first so I have no guidelines. These suggestions are really helpful.

  5. Posted September 30, 2013 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    Thanks for this post, Edie.
    I believe that it is good and appropriate to prepare oneself for handling these huge issues. We even have what I call “Croaking” folders for stashing information and preferences for our own human passing. I have some hopes for after croaking, but no strong beliefs; I prefer evidence, and I haven’t gathered any yet.

    My experience with the passing of other pets (all cats until Bearly) is that the grief is huge at first, and it will sneak upon you at odd times, and over a surprising period of time. And like with most other passings, time helps; and ultimately the good memories resurface.

    You’re clearly taking very good care of Frankie. With this post, you also take care of yourself. Keep doing that, and all will be fine, ultimately. And for me, the grief is a good thing in itself. it helps. really.
    Stick with the friends who understand you in this. Follow your instincts; they sound like good one.

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted September 30, 2013 at 8:18 am | Permalink

      I love the idea of “croaking” folders — as opposed to the more formal will. And evidence about the hereafter is awfully hard to come by, isn’t it?

      I think “sticking with the friends who understand you” is what brought me back to blogging. People who don’t love animals don’t come by.

  6. Lori
    Posted September 30, 2013 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    Edie,
    I hate “the bridge,” too. It makes me cry buckets, and I just hate it. My “kids” aren’t up there with a bunch of strange animals. They weren’t “animal” animals to begin with, why would they be “animal” animals now? I know my kids are with my Nana right now. Bonnie, the oldest of the cats, is pointing out the best places for plants and stuff, and Mary Lou, the chosen greyhound, is digging the holes for Nana to plant in. Clyde and Paws (cats) are sunning themselves, and Sonic and Jade (other greyhounds) are just running and sniffing and having fun. This gives me comfort. If that isn’t how it is when I die, it won’t matter, because I’ll be dead, too. Padfoot and George (my two big, strapping greys) are keeping me company now. Frankie is fortunate to have a mom who loves him, and I’m sure you know how fortunate you are to have him, too. Hang in there, Edie. Watching our kids go is a hell all its own but having them to love makes up for it. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted September 30, 2013 at 8:45 am | Permalink

      Happy to hear I’m not the only one who feels that way about the bridge, Lori. Hmmm. Now I’m going to have to think about what Frankie liked as a solo activity; the squeaky carrot/chile game require me as co-participant. He did like sunning himself — I hate to talk about this in the past tense, but there’s really not much of his old self left. Which is why, of course, I wrote this post…

  7. Michael Cripe
    Posted September 30, 2013 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    I had posted comments to you before about Archie. He was the one who seemed to “get younger” after a grooming. Archie passed away almost 4 weeks ago. Archie, like Frankie was never fond of the company of other dogs, just me. So all of the mentions of the “Rainbow Bridge” while well meaning were not comforting. Also my personal religious beliefs (or lack there of) contribute to the finality of losing Archie. I wish I could give you some advice or some comfort, but I can’t. I can say I’m very sorry for what you are experiencing and you aren’t alone in feeling the way you do. In a rather strange way, your article has helped more than any of the “here after”, “you’ll see him again” stuff I’ve gotten. Archie made me realize I have a purpose in life, he gave my life meaning. That was to give dogs who would otherwise have no life, a good loving life and that’s what I intend to do. The people who say “just go get a new Archie” are clueless and need their mouth to meet my fist. There will never be another Archie. When I do find another companion, perhaps my grief will be tempered, but the memories of Archie will always remain.

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted September 30, 2013 at 8:23 am | Permalink

      Yes, I remember your comments about Archie (aside from everything else, that’s the name of my best friend’s late dog). And I might not have mentioned it, but you inspired me to take Frankie for a grooming — which did seem to perk him up.

      I can’t tell you how much it means to me to hear that this post helped you. And that you have found a path to take because of Archie.

      Above all, I’m very sorry for your loss. I don’t know much about a lot of things, but I know you cared deeply for Archie and I also know he knew that too.

  8. Posted September 30, 2013 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    I’m sending you my love. I cannot even imagine how hard it must be to see Frankie’s obvious decline on a daily basis. It breaks my heart to even think about it. I’ve only lost one dog in my adult life and he died very quickly and unexpectedly. There was no time to prepare myself – I walked around in shock for a couple of weeks. What eventually pulled me through it was the feeling that Blitzen had left us to make room for a being who needed us more … and then we got Ty. Nothing heals a heart so fast as a plump little puppy, I guess.

    I hope you can feel the support you have around you to believe and morn the way you choose. None of us know what comes next and your version is just as valid as any other. When Frankie’s time comes, the only thing we know for sure is that he’ll rest in peace.

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted October 1, 2013 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

      I do feel it, Amy — and that’s why, with all the difficulty expressing myself, I’m glad I started pet blogging again. Thanks for coming being my friend and constant supporter.

  9. Posted September 30, 2013 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    Duly noted. I don’t remember any rituals from when my childhood dogs died. When Cody died, we planted a tree at our first house. It is hard to leave the tree behind when you move / sell, though. Still, when I see the same kind of tree somewhere else, I think of him. When Penelope died, I made a little scrapbook with my fav pix and other mementos. I’ve seen others make little tribute videos with fav pix, video clips, and music. The bridge thing *is* a little sappy. I personally don’t mind the phrase “crossed over” as a euphemism. I also — oddly enough — don’t mind “earned his wings,” even though I’m not the heaven type. Long story why, but I keep Cody’s ashes in my office closet, and I keep Penelope’s in the kitchen. I also have a “memorial” bookshelf, with photos of both of them in my office. We’ll add Ginko and Lilly, when the time comes. As for the grief itself, don’t ask me. I’m still completely flat under the weight of losing my mom this summer. Because Lilly is my first true “heart dog” (as the phrase goes), I’m not sure yet how this coming loss will be different.

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted October 1, 2013 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

      I have no basis of comparison for my grief — except with long ago departed parents — so it’s hard to anticipate. Of course being a pet blogger means, for better and worse, having a public record of your pets. That’s going to be a memorial, isn’t it?

  10. Bonnie Lee
    Posted September 30, 2013 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    Edie, this is wonderfully written; so heartfelt. I actually feel the same about any personal loss… everyone needs time and space to discover their own path to grieving. A wake to celebrating Frankie’s life after he’s gone is a nice idea, whenever you’re ready–with plenty of booze and food to soothe the soul. For now, just enjoy every Frankie moment you can.

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted October 1, 2013 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

      Thank you, Bonnie — and thanks for coming by. Nice to see you here.

  11. Posted September 30, 2013 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    I’ve been there more times than I can count- last week, in fact- and the one thing I can say with certainty is that there is no way to know anything with certainty.

    People are all different and even the same person is different from year to year and pet to pet. I mourned each of my animals differently, though some things remained the same (I share your feelings on the Rainbow Bridge.)

    Each of my pets has ‘come’ to me within a week of their death, in a dream. It’s very weird. One time only. I don’t know if it’s my brain or something else, but it’s comforting and not something I have expected. Whatever it is that you are going through, it is yours and yours alone to navigate in a way that is meaningful, and anyone who says otherwise can kiss off.

    As for the research, thank you. That takes a very, very special person to agree to that and it means so much. If you do not have a way to get in touch with a research program, I can suggest an alternative- if the local specialty hospital has interns they may be grateful to have a lovingly bequeathed pet for the interns to practice techniques on. For example, when I learned how to place a chest tube during an emergency lab, we practiced on styrofoam boxes. To really feel confident before I was in the position of needing to do it to save a life, I needed a deceased pet to do it on- I wasn’t in a big hospital with lots at my disposal but an intern in a private hospital, and it took a while before I found the right family who was gracious enough for me to respectfully try this technique. It meant SO much to me.

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted September 30, 2013 at 9:24 am | Permalink

      Thank you, Jessica — for letting me know that my idea isn’t morbid or off the wall and for inspiring me to call my local veterinary specialty hospital. Knowing that Frankie will be appreciated and contribute means a lot to me.

    • Posted September 30, 2013 at 9:29 am | Permalink

      Such a good suggestion!

  12. Posted September 30, 2013 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    This is a post I wish I had written…total agreement.

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted October 1, 2013 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

      Thanks, Jan. Much appreciated.

  13. Posted September 30, 2013 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    Edie, my heart aches for you (with you). I wish there were some way to take the pain away, to ease the way. I know how agonizing these days can be. The decline and death of both of my dogs before Sadie caused the deepest grief I’ve ever experienced. I’m sure I don’t have to say it in this forum but I will anyway: Our attachment to our pets is no a trifling matter. Our emotional attachment is quite profound and very real. I loved your post and I’m totally with you about the rainbow bridge. And, if I could, I’d like to add: Please don’t ever, EVER, say to me that Sarah, or Morgan, or Frankie or any dog was “just a dog.” I’m not a violent person, but those are fightin’ words.

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted October 1, 2013 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

      Your sympathy — and empathy — help a lot. Thanks, as ever, for them.

  14. Posted September 30, 2013 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    Good to know you don’t believe in the Rainbow Bridge and different strokes for different folks or so the old cliche goes but I find the concept of the Rainbow Bridge comforting.

    I don’t believe in heaven or hell or God or Moses parting the Red Sea but I do find my way to the Rainbow Bridge. I like to imagine that dogs are somewhere sweet, cavorting happily. Do I believe that it’s actually happening? Hell, no. But I like to imagine it like a sweet daydream not unlike me and Johnny Depp walking through a field of overgrown sunflowers.

    As for urns and such. My first two hounds have them. Will I do it again for Jett & Girlfriend? Who knows? It’s costly and in my partial retirement years, I have less funds for stuff like that. However, I am comforted by their presence in my office looking over my shoulder. I hate to think about the reality of their dead bodies ground up as dog food. Yes, that is what “by products” are.

    Hopefully, you have more time with Frankie. I do know that each day is a gift and watching my dogs grow old and older and then making the decision to euthanize is one of the most challenging aspects of my life.

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted October 1, 2013 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

      You’re the first one to make the idea of the Rainbow Bridge palatable, by comparing it to the fantasy of Johnny Depp — though no way would I be walking through any fields with him 😉

      Well, I know you’ll be there to support me — with both food and booze — when the time comes.

  15. Posted September 30, 2013 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    Ah, Edie. I shared a little of Kafka’s (my old cat) passing from this life on my FB page. I use those words, because I’ve come to have a belief system that involves the body dying, but some sort of spirit lives on. I put myself firmly in the category of zen/pagan. Kafka’s body lies in a little grave, wrapped in a little shroud of silk. We had an informal wake – and drank a toast of Talisker to her journey. It felt right.

    All I can share is ‘Being With’. Whatever that means for you and Frankie.

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted October 1, 2013 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

      Yes, I remember seeing that, Jenny. It was very moving. The silk shroud sounds lovely — and I definitely approve of the single malt toast!

  16. Posted September 30, 2013 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    My own dog, Franklin, has begun to get gray in the last year or so, which reminds me of his mortality. I’m focusing on enjoying all the time we still have together — which I sincerely hope will be years, given his breed and state of health, but however long it is, I intend to make the most of it.

    Nobody should ever tell you how to live, or love, or grieve. I know you will find the right path for you when the time comes. In the meantime, enjoy Frankie’s company!

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted October 1, 2013 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for your good wishes, Irith. I hope you and Franklin have many more happy years together today.

  17. Posted September 30, 2013 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

    I think it is great that you are forward and very honest with yourself on your plans and expectations… And I could not agree more on the rainbow bridge.
    We did have to get Mr Phoo to go into witness protection, otherwise how crazy would I sound as I kept having conversations with him after he was gone. Pretty nuts, some I would say 🙂
    We all do grieve differently and only when the time comes you will know how you will heal. I did get a silhouette of him tattooed in my arm right afterwards even though I meant to have it done when he was still around. But I was in such a daze on the last months that it just did not happen. Not being a religious person at all, I would have to blame my OCD on all the rituals and memorials we created. I did – do – cling to the physical idea of having the kid around: The Wall of Phoo is pretty absurdly monumental – & was hung immediately as we moved apartments, five years afterwards. I was stopped from going the taxidermy route, but I do have him in an urn by my side of the bed. To add rough on top of rough, against our best judgement the great ball of craziness called Steve moved in. Kinda sorta unannounced, just 10 days afterwards. But that’s another story.
    My heart is with you. This is such a bittersweet phase and Pretty Boy Frankie is one lucky dude to have you by his side. We will raise a toast to that from here.

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted October 1, 2013 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

      I have to say that, of all the notions of the afterlife and all the ways of dealing with grief, Witness Protection and a tattoo are probably my favorites! I could definitely see Pretty Boy Frankie and Mr. Phoo ganging up together…

      Thanks for the East Coast toast. PBF and I definitely appreciate it (well, one of us anyway). I know how Steve indulges so I hope he left some for you…

  18. Posted September 30, 2013 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

    I completely agree about the cloyingness of the Rainbow Bridge, and I’m not into urns. When our four-and-a-half-year-old dog died suddenly, my boyfriend wanted to keep her ashes. We have them in a lovely engraved box with her photo. But we’re not going to do that for all the dogs we have for the rest of our lives are we? I don’t want a shelf full of our dogs in urns.

    I’m sorry your time is coming to an end. Losing a dog is the worst.

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted October 1, 2013 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

      Aw, thanks Kari, much appreciated. I had to laugh at the image of a shelf full of your dogs in urns — though I suppose that some might think that’s fine too…

  19. Becky
    Posted October 1, 2013 at 1:33 am | Permalink

    Hi there,
    I found your blog by chance but reading this entry has hit home with what I’m dealing with currently. My 13.5 yo shepherd mix has debilitating arthritis in his hips and knees. He was diagnosed last September when I noticed difficulty jumping in the car and slowing on walks. We managed for quite a while on supplements and simple pain meds. Over time those weren’t enough, he has had to go to stronger meds which are helping with the pain, but I am seeing the noticeable decline and it is heartbreaking and taking its toll on me. He is still happy and wants to go for walks and play, but he can barely manage down the street on some days. I’m certainly afraid what this winter is going to do to him. We just got the results from his last bloodwork which is done twice a year, and for the first time ever, one of his kidney values was slightly elevated. The medicines are taking a toll on his kidneys. I have realized that we are now in hospice mode. If I stopped the meds he literally can’t get up on his own. If I continue the meds, they are eventually going to cause his kidneys to decline. It really sucks, and I know that the time will eventually come where I am going to have to make that awful decision. A part of me has already started the mourning process, and a part of me is still in shock that my constant companion for the last 13 years is soon going to depart this world. I am a vet tech and have been through this many times but it never gets easier, and this one is going to be especially hard as he was my first pet as an adult on my own.
    As to a way to memorialize him, I’ve decided to make a donation in his name to either our local animal shelter or vet school. I will also of course, when the time comes rescue a new shelter dog in his honor. I honestly believe that the time from diagnosis to eventual end is the hardest time. You realize the mortality and that it isn’t a winnable situation, and your stuck seeing the slow decline of your best friend. This last year has been hard on me and there are times I think I can’t take another year or so of this. He has declined so much in the last 6 months I hate to see how he will be in another 6 months. I will grieve for sure when he is gone, but in a way I think there will be relief for both of us. For him that he is no longer in pain, and for me that I no longer have to see the slow decline.

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted October 1, 2013 at 6:08 am | Permalink

      Thanks very much for coming by and telling your story — I’m so sorry you’re experiencing this. I have found that writing about what I’m going through clarifies things in my mind. I hope that’s the case for you too. The donation in your dog’s name is a wonderful idea. And you’re so right about this intermediate period being the toughest time. I hope you find your way through it with some joy as well as pain.

  20. Posted October 1, 2013 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    Edie – I feel the parallels of your experiences with my time with Cleo. We are not knowingly in a hospice situation but with all of her known health issues, and natural longevity for a large breed, the idea that we might be in one is always there. A year ago I was fixated on my fear of how I’ll handle her death and the days, months following. I have experienced only one significant death in my life of someone I was emotionally attached to. Meeting with a Pet Loss Support Group and learning about anticipatory grief helped me some.

    For me today, letting myself embrace this idea that our time is limited has helped lessen the anxiety of her inevitable departure. Cleo has positively influenced me and my humanity over the past nine years, and focusing on what is still available for me to learn from our experiences together – even the crappy end of life stuff – is helping me not dwell on the sad.

    Since I don’t know when she’ll go, I’d rather increase the odds that it will be during a time when I was thinking good thoughts about her and us, not bitter or fearful ones. It may seem strange to some but after the first episode where I thought we’d lose her, I started taking the opportunity to say out loud to her “thank you” and “you are and have been a great dog” out of appreciation for her efforts as our first adopted dog. It has been comforting to talk out loud to her about her accomplishments and the positive impact she had made on family and strangers alike. I feel these memories of our dialog and conversations will help balance the inevitable sadness with her departure.

    Thanks once again Edie for being the great writer you are. I really appreciate your point of view.

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted October 1, 2013 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for coming by, Sharon — I wish it wasn’t under the same sad circumstances. Frankie and are not “formally” in hospice either, but once I realized I wouldn’t be paying for specialty dental care (or, I imagine, any other expensive procedures that involves anesthesia) I thought that was as good a name for it as any. It gives me some comfort.

      I’m glad you’re taking care of yourself with the Pet Loss Support group — and thanks for pointing out that this can be done in advance, not only after the fact.

      I love the idea that you are talking out loud to Cleo too; I think you’re right that it helps offset the sadness.

      Virtual hugs, Sharon. As you know, I feel your pain.

  21. Cheryl
    Posted October 2, 2013 at 4:50 am | Permalink

    Everyone has expressed themselves so well. I can’t add much more but more but this little bit Having walked down that road before ,the only comfort I could give myself was that they at least spent their life with me . Loving them as I did, gave them what life is all about. Some were rescue dogs, their life cut short by one illness or another. I asked myself, why me? then I remembered. They had a good home with me.
    After the first dog ( as an adult) I thought I could never love another…how silly…I love them as individuals same as I can love humans. Prefer dogs tho .
    No need to wonder if you should get another or when, your heart will guide you.
    Altho I believe in the afterlife, I also know that this is my mechanism to deal with life’s
    sorrows. In the end NO one really knows and this is the mystery of life. Enjoy your little one and keep telling him how grateful you are that he chose you. Please accept my sympathies

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted October 2, 2013 at 6:22 am | Permalink

      Thank you so much for coming by, Cheryl. You had plenty to add. Painful as it is now, I AM glad Frankie chose me.

  22. Cynthia
    Posted October 3, 2013 at 6:18 am | Permalink

    I would be honored to host a Rainbow Bridge-free wake for Frankie, well really, for you. Our non-belief systems are very similar, if not identical. Imaginary after-life friends and places do give a lot of people great comfort, but they are just make believe and I would rather not have to hear about them so I don’t have to force myself to be polite.

    I do find wakes to be cathartic because they are a safe place where you can talk, cry, and laugh about beloved deceased friends openly. In my experience, when I am grieving or dealing with a serious illness, people shy away from discussing the death/illness. And I don’t think it is solely because I am a (sometimes cranky) atheist, and the only solace they can offer involves God’s will or heaven, or other claptrap ideas. I’ve seen the ignore-the-gorilla behavior among afterlife believers. In a way we are very fortunate to live in a time and in a country were death and serious diseases are not common events, but we don’t have the emotional tools to cope with them as well when they do inevitably crop up.

    Long reply to say, in short, me and mi casa are here for you.

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted October 3, 2013 at 6:58 am | Permalink

      Nothing like publicly shaming a friend into “volunteering” to host an event! Thank you for being gracious about it. I don’t know that I’ve ever attended a wake but the way you describe it, it sounds like exactly what I will need under the circumstances.

      I agree, people of all persuasions find it difficult to talk about certain topics and so ignore them. Wakes are all well and good but it’s better to be able to discuss things while the person/pet is still alive. I guess blogging fills that gap, in a way.

      • Cynthia
        Posted October 3, 2013 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

        I don’t feel shamed at all! I was planning on offering to host a wake for Frankie before you wrote this very honest and moving post. There’s nothing like friends, libations, and comfort food to help get us through hard times.

        And I applaud you for wanting to help researchers and/or students, I wish I had it in me to do likewise but, to tell the truth, I am more inclined to have a shelf full of urns.

        • Edie Jarolim
          Posted October 3, 2013 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

          Thanks, Cynthia. And I respect your urn decision. Your house is much neater than mine is and I suspect you’re far more coordinated than I am. I shudder to think where any ashes would end up…

  23. Posted October 5, 2013 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    I am a newbie to your site but sadly not a newbie to departures. I can tell you that it never gets easy. The hardest part for me was waiting for the Vet to arrive to my home. Up to that point you can still change your mind. On several occasions I did change my mind, thankfully my Vet is also a good friend.
    I can say all of my passings have been very peaceful. They do just go to sleep with me holding them tight on their favorite blacket or bed with a special toy.
    I also prefer a private cremation with me attending. They leave with a bouquet of fresh flowers between their paws and a hand written letter tied with a bow from me. In the letter I write about what they ment to me. I do save their ashes as I hope to have them all mixed with mine when I depart.

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted October 5, 2013 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for coming by, Linda, and for sharing your experience. The ritual that you describe, the cremation with the flowers and the note, is very moving.

  24. Posted October 7, 2013 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    Are we twin sisters of different mothers? Because, if I were half as witty as you and a much better writer, I would have written this post. 🙂

    I hope it’s a long time before you get to rage at all the Rainbow Bridge emails people send you. But even more, I hope that every moment you and Frankie spend together brings you great joy for giving him such a good life.

  25. Posted October 18, 2013 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    I do have empathy for you. it’s never easy and people need to find what works for them.

    The ASPCA has bereavement counselors if you need/want someone to talk to. I would have called; however, I had my rabbi and my own therapist at the time. They helped.

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted October 18, 2013 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

      Thanks — I’ve got a good dog lover’s support system but appreciate the suggestion.

  26. Richard White
    Posted October 21, 2013 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    What brings me comfort is knowing that I gave a good life – hell, a great, wonderful life – to dogs who would otherwise have not had it so good. My dogs have all been rescues – from interstate highway medians, from local shelters, etc. They had all they could ever have wanted – toys, space, food, a comfortable place to sleep, freedom from hate, cruelty and abuse (which some of them knew all too well in their earlier days) and most of all, they had me.

  27. Posted November 7, 2013 at 12:30 am | Permalink

    Well, I don’t know how much I believe in Rainbow Bridge per se but I do feel that souls are eternal. If indeed Rainbow Bridge is a part of Heaven somehow, I’m sure that either Frankie would feel differently about other dogs than he did or he’d have a place of privacy.

    The reason I say I do feel that souls are eternal is that I still feel connected to Jasmine through my heart (or whatever you’d call it)

  28. Nan Calvert
    Posted November 7, 2013 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    I am a bit late to the conversation here because I just found your blog. We lost our Cookie in November of 2012, Sachi in July of 2013 and Zuzu just this past August. So much loss in a relatively short amount of time. They were all elderly dogs two of whom had had good lives pretty much their whole lives. Cookie we rescued from the neighbor and her last years were spent being deeply loved.

    My vet calls it “giving them grace.” That is deeply comforting to me. She comes to our home and they take their last breaths in our arms. They are freed from pain, suffering and the indignity of old age. It doesn’t make it any less sad to be sure. Yet, those words, “giving them grace” is like a balm somehow.

    Now, I have to go and hug my dogs.

  29. Abby
    Posted January 25, 2015 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    Hi Edie, I’ve somehow by chance while googling for help of the hell I’m going through right now. My 2 year old papoodle (papillon x poodle) who’s name was Frankie also, escaped from the smallest hole in a fence we lovingly and carefully put up for her, and was hit by a car 7 days ago, my heart is bleeding like I’ve never known before. I’ve had her since 8 weeks old and she was my little shadow-so full of life, love & energy, she’d spend hours in the garden chasing butterflies and destroying my flowers (which I didn’t care about), her 4 year old sister Harper is my first baby and they are from the same parents and same beautiful breeders. Harper is no where near as affectionate as Frankie was and is lazy but loved her little sister and loved playing with her. It’s hard for me to tell if Harper is depressed or not, I try to play with her but she’s just not interested and at the same time I’m grieving for Frankie. I’m not sure if you’re still active on this blog so I’ll wait to see if you reply. I’ve received some solace reading all of your blogs and I’ll continue tomorrow as it’s 2am here and I should try get some sleep-sleep has been hard to come by since I lost my baby girl and think of the pain she may have been in and that I wasn’t there as ber mummy in her final moments, my poor little girl.

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted January 25, 2015 at 9:33 am | Permalink

      I’m so sorry to hear about your little Frankie; you may not have been with her at the last minute but it sounds like her end was quick nevertheless. She probably literally did not know what hit her.

      I’m glad that my blog gave you some solace. I am not blogging as much as I used to but I am certainly responding to comments.

      Dogs do get depressed and miss their companions. Let Harper grieve–you might give her some special foods that she loves–while you grieve too. Give yourself, and Harper time. The pain of missing my Frankie hasn’t gone away and I don’t think it ever will entirely but it gets duller as time passes and as I love my new girl, Madeleine.

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